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            The Aga Khan University Hospital Pakistan

Learn About Childhood Immunization with Dr. Fyezah Jehan

<p>​Vaccination is the best method to protect your children from life-threatening diseases, allowing children to grow up healthy and safe. Read on to find out everything you need to know about childhood immunization from Dr. Fyezah Jehan, Associate Professor and Chair, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, The Aga Khan University Hospital.
</p><p><strong>​Why are vaccines so important? What happens if a child doesn&#39;t get vaccinated?</strong></p><p style="text-align: left;"><strong>FJ: </strong>Vaccines are particularly important for children because their immune systems are weak, and they are vulnerable to some common infectious diseases. By receiving vaccinations early in life, children can develop immunity to these diseases before they are exposed to them, ensuring a strong foundation for a healthy future.</p><p>If a child does not get vaccinated, he or she is at risk of getting a range of serious and potentially life-threatening illnesses. When most children in a population are immunized, they can also indirectly protect those who cannot receive vaccines for medical or other reasons.
</strong></p><p><strong>What vaccines are recommended for children? Are all of these available in Pakistan?</strong></p><p><strong>FJ: </strong>The World Health Organization (WHO) provides a general guideline for childhood vaccinations, which may vary by country. They are as below:</p><ul><li>Hepatitis B </li><li>Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTaP or DTP) </li><li>Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) </li><li>Inactivated Polio Vaccine (IPV) and/or Oral Polio Vaccine (OPV) </li><li>Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine (PCV) </li><li>Rotavirus Vaccine </li><li>Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) </li><li>Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine  </li><li>Human Papillomavirus (HPV) </li><li>Meningococcal Vaccine </li></ul><p>For a children&#39;s vaccination schedule, please see <a href="/pakistan/Health-Services/pharmacy/Documents/Children%20Vaccination%20List_Sept%202020_v3.pdf">here</a>.</p><p>Most of these vaccines are given in multiple doses to enhance protection. There are also other vaccines, such as Hepatitis A and Influenza vaccines that may only be recommended in specific situations. All these vaccines are available in Pakistan.</p><p><strong>
</strong></p><p><strong>What is the recommendation for vaccinations which are not available?</strong></p><p><strong>FJ: </strong>For vaccines that are not available, please check with your healthcare provider who can share other prevention mechanisms for you and your child.</p><p><strong>
</strong></p><p><strong>What are some common myths and misconceptions about vaccination and how would you address them?</strong></p><p><strong>FJ: </strong>Below are a few myths and the facts against them:</p><p><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Myth 1:</strong></span><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration: underline;"> Vaccines cause autism.</span></p><p><strong>Fact:</strong> There is no link between vaccines and autism. The initial study that proposed this connection has been thoroughly discredited and retracted due to methodological flaws and ethical concerns. Several studies have looked at this again and again and demonstrated no truth in this.</p><p><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Myth 2:</strong></span><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration: underline;"> Natural immunity is better than vaccine-acquired immunity.</span></p><p><strong>Fact:</strong> Going with natural immunity comes at the cost of experiencing sickness, which may be severe or life-threatening. Vaccines are a much safer way to develop immunity without suffering the risks associated with the illness.</p><p><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Myth 3:</strong></span><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration: underline;"> Vaccines contain harmful ingredients.</span></p><p><strong>Fact:</strong> Vaccines are rigorously tested for safety before approval. They can contain trace amounts of substances like aluminum or formaldehyde, but these levels are very much within the safe limits. They are sometimes added for preserving vaccine stability or improving the immune response.</p><p><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Myth 4:</strong></span><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration: underline;"> Too many vaccines can overwhelm the immune system.</span></p><p><strong>Fact:</strong> Our body can handle many antigens at the same time. The number of antigens in vaccines is a tiny fraction of what we encounter daily through exposure to bacteria and viruses. Vaccination schedules are carefully designed to provide optimal protection without overburdening the immune system.</p><p><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Myth 5:</strong></span><span lang="EN-US" style="text-decoration: underline;"> Vaccines are not necessary because the diseases they protect against are rare or non-existent.</span></p><p><strong>Fact:</strong> The reason we do not see many vaccine-preventable diseases is that those diseases have declined as a result of vaccination. If the vaccine rates decline, these diseases can make a comeback, leading to outbreaks and increased mortality.​
</p><p><strong>To learn about vaccinations for adults, <a href="/pakistan/AboutUs/News/Pages/adult-immunization.aspx">click here​</a>.</strong>
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